Daily Devotional

May 11, 2020

Daybreak: Jeremiah 52:1-34

“And it came to pass in the seven and thirtieth year of the captivity of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the twelfth month, in the five and twentieth day of the month, that Evilmerodach king of Babylon in the first year of his reign lifted up the head of Jehoiachin king of Judah, and brought him forth out of prison, and spake kindly unto him, and set his throne above the throne of the kings that were with him in Babylon, and changed his prison garments: and he did continually eat bread before him all the days of his life.” (Jeremiah 52:31-33)

A simple act of kindness can have tremendous impact. I will never forget the kindnesses that were shown to my family some years ago when I was suffering with a debilitating illness that kept me away from my home for many months. 

One example in particular comes to mind. My children were primary school age, and the fun of finding costumes for the October school parties was part of our family tradition. In previous years, I had made the kids’ costumes myself, delving into my stash of fabrics and relying on ingenuity to deck them out as princesses, storybook characters, animals, or various other things. But this year would be different. I was in the hospital. My husband was doing a masterful job of balancing visits to me with the responsibility of being both mom and dad to our kids . . . but how could I ask him to take on the project of finding dress-up costumes for four children? It was a small thing when one considered the big picture of my life-threatening illness, but it was something that weighed on my mind. 

One day after school, the kids bounced in to see me with an exciting announcement. One of the other young mothers in the church had offered to take all of them shopping for costumes! Their delight at this completely unexpected kindness was obvious — but it didn’t match the quiet delight in my heart that someone had thought about that particular “need” and had stepped in to meet it. 

In our focus verses, we read of a kindness done for Jehoiachin, king of Judah, who had spent thirty-seven difficult years in captivity in Babylon as a consequence of his evil reign. Evilmerodach, the new king of Babylon, showed mercy to Jehoiachin, and as an act of kindness allowed him to experience some measure of material comfort and personal dignity in the final days of his life. 

Today, consider those people whose lives touch yours. Is there a way you could show concern and care for someone in your circle of acquaintances? Ask God for a heart that is alert to opportunities to show kindness. You never know just how much that will mean to the recipient!

Background

In Jeremiah 52, details of the fall of Jerusalem are cataloged again. This chapter is a historical postscript to the prophecy of Jeremiah, most likely not written by the prophet himself. (Jeremiah 51 ends with the words, “Thus far are the words of Jeremiah.”) Some historians believe it may have been written by Ezra, after the return from captivity. 

Almost the same historical postscript can be found at the end of 2 Kings. (See 2 Kings 24:18 — 25:30.) Much of what is recounted in verses 1-12 was also related in Jeremiah 39:1-18. The postscript was likely added to demonstrate that the prophecy of Jeremiah was fulfilled in all of its detail. 

Because of his refusal to obey God’s instruction, King Zedekiah was physically blinded by order of the Chaldean king. Then he was bound with chains, taken to Babylon, and imprisoned for life. The Temple of God was destroyed by fire. For the Jews, this was a great historical calamity, not matched again until the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. The king’s house and the houses of the city were also burned.

Three deportations of the Jews are listed in verses 25 through 30. The first occurred in the seventh year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign, the second occurred in the eighteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign (the same time as the destruction of Jerusalem), and the third is only mentioned in this particular passage. The third deportation may have been a punishment for the assassination of Gedaliah. The majority of Jews remained in exile until King Cyrus allowed them to return in 538 B.C.

Verses 31- 34 describe the liberation of Jehoiachin by Evilmerodach, the son of Nebuchadnezzar. The reference to “a continual diet given him of the king of Babylon” meant that he received some sort of government pension. Cuneiform tablets discovered in archaeological excavations in the area of Babylon reference Evilmerodach’s liberation of Jehoiachin. 

Amplified Outline

(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
IV.   Epilogue (52:1-34)
      A.   The description of the fall of Jerusalem (52:1-23)
            1.   The siege of the city (52:1-5)
            2.   The desertion of the city (52:6-11)
            3.   The destruction of the city (52:12-14)
            4.   The deportation of skilled labor (52:15-16)
            5.   The devastation of the city (52:17-23)
      B.   The death of the priests and officers (52:24-27)
      C.   The deportation to Babylon (52:28-30)
      D.   The deliverance of Jehoiachin from prison (52:31-34)

A Closer Look

  1. What punishment did the king of Babylon inflict upon Zedekiah and his sons?
     
  2. Why did God allow the destruction of His holy Temple? 
     
  3. What are some ways we can become more alert to opportunities to do acts of kindness for others?

Conclusion

Opportunities to show kindness exist for each one of us. Let’s purpose to reach out to others in caring concern whenever we can!

Reference Materials